Connect
To Top

Meet Kita Centella of Loose Leaf Tea Market

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kita Centella.

Kita, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 2002, I bought an herbal store that was part of a small franchise. I split with the franchise in 2006 and reinvented the business to include an adjoining vegetarian/vegan organic restaurant. When I was part of the franchise, they provided the herbal teas and products to be sold in the store.

After splitting from them, I created all of our new teas and herbal wellness blends from scratch. We began making all of our own teas and herbal products for the store, using all organic botanical ingredients.

I was primarily motivated to include a restaurant because so many of my herbal customers required coaching on their diet, which is the root cause of so many health problems. I assumed that my herbal customers would all be restaurant customers as well, but it wasn’t so. The restaurant drew people who were already eating healthy, and many of them never became store customers. It was interesting to have the 2 sets of customers.

After 7 years, I decided to close the restaurant, as, like so many restaurants, it was break-even on a good day, and a loss on others.

The day we closed the restaurant in March 2015, I met with a branding expert and remade the store concept to what it is now, Loose Leaf Tea Market. We still make everything from scratch, and we’ve created more teas that are not only healthy, but also taste amazing. So many tea companies cut corners by using poor quality ingredients that are covered up with flavoring agents, both artificial and “natural”. I’m really picky about the ingredients we use: their quality, flavor, aroma, and freshness, grown without chemicals or pesticides.

Teas are like very specific and targeted foods. The tea leaves, herbs, fruits, and spices all contain unique health-promoting properties, as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When used regularly, specially blended teas can support and nourish your body and overall health. Our mission is to help our customers choose what’s perfect for them, to help them achieve their health goals.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
During the journey with my business, I had pivoted several times: from franchisee to independent; the economic and logistical challenges of food service; and the transition to our current brand. Although the pivots were necessary, they did create some confusion with customers.

In the early years, I was a single mom, so my kids came to work with me when they weren’t in school. If they were out sick, I had them bundled up in my office so I could take care of them between customers.

I knew nothing about branding, and named my independent brand a long and complex name that people had a hard time pronouncing and remembering (Chakra 4 Herb & Tea House). The rebrand to Loose Leaf has made it much simpler for everyone.

An ongoing struggle as a specialized business is customer unfamiliarity. Everyone has heard of Lipton tea, but a much smaller percentage of people are familiar with loose tea, not to mention the incredible variety that’s available. Once someone makes the leap and tries our products, they’re hooked, but they have to learn a new habit and that’s a jump for some folks. We’ve found the most success with people who are motivated to achieve health goals.

Please tell us about Loose Leaf Tea Market.
First, I will tell you the “what”, but more important is the “why”.

Loose Leaf Tea Market’s strength in the marketplace is our fresh, organic, handmade tea blends. We use fresh organic ingredients whenever possible, we order our ingredients in small amounts so that we’re always using fresh material that smells and tastes awesome, and we never ever use artificial ingredients. When we do use extra flavoring for tea blends, those flavors are made of 100% vegan ingredients and are certified organic.

As an herbalist, I’ve learned what plants can do to help your body be healthy and balanced. When I create a tea, I think about what I want the tea to DO for you, and choose ingredients that will make that happen. I also have learned what flavors go well together, because it’s critical that these teas have a pleasure factor. If they don’t, you’re not going to drink it, and it will never help you that way. So, they have to taste good. I’m constantly practicing this skill in order to continually push our blends to new levels of goodness.

And here is WHY.

I know that this stuff can transform your life. In my late teens and early twenties, I suffered from serious addictions to alcohol, sugar, and, for a short period, drugs. In 1986, I gave up alcohol, drugs, and eating meat, and began my journey to health. I was fortunate to have been befriended by Native American mentors, one woman in particular, who really helped me get on my feet and taught me about the power of nature. During this time, I began to study the healing benefits of plants, which kicked off a new lifestyle and a commitment to learn as much as I can about plants, and then bring this knowledge to the community. At the time, I had no idea what that would look like.

So, this is the why. If the healing power of plants can turn my life around, they can certainly help others. This is the drive behind the business, and it is what has helped me power through the tough times. This knowledge is important, and people need what herbs and teas have to offer.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I distinctly remember the times people showed me plants. Nature memories are the sweetest and most persistent.

Pricing:

  • Tea pricing begins at $6 for a trial size
  • Tea accessories range from $1 to $79
  • You can get a 30 day supply of tea for less than $30

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Kita Centella

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in